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Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbours? Neighbourhood Effects of Foreign Funding Restrictions to Ngos

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This study investigates the rise of legislative restrictions on foreign funding to NGOs, focusing on the influence of neighbourhood effects of countries within the same region adopting similar legislation. Legislative restrictions on foreign funding to NGOs are most likely to occur in hybrid and authoritarian regimes, which are most prevalent in the developing world. Drawing from a dataset of sixty-five countries implementing foreign-funding restrictions to NGOs between 1993 and 2016, this study uses comparative historical analysis to examine neighbourhood effects of foreign funding restrictions in Eurasia and East Africa. In a final step, it uses preliminary social network analysis based on Twitter API to examine counter-mobilization in the only two countries that have successfully resisted foreign funding restrictions: Kyrgyzstan and Kenya.

In a departure from previous scholars, the study finds strong support for neighbourhood effects, evidenced by Russia's 2012 foreign agent law in Eurasia, as well as Ethiopia's 2009 legislation in East Africa. These neighbourhood effects are often due to historical and economic ties (Russia and Central Asia), including regional economic organizations, migration ties, or the experience of regional conflict spillover due to recent democratization revolt or terrorist attack in a neighbouring country. Finally, transnational linkages to international NGOs, particularly in terms of human-rights and environmental organizations, are evident in social media networks of civil society organizations contesting foreign funding restrictions in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. This provides support for the importance of interorganizational linkages with international organizations in countries where restrictive legislation is being contested.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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